PHOTO: Green buses lined up on Thursday for the withdrawal of people from eastern Aleppo city
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UPDATE 1840 GMT: Journalist Primo Ahmad that the second convoy of 20 buses and 10 ambulances has arrived in western Aleppo Province.
The scene this afternoon in eastern Aleppo city:
UPDATE 1530 GMT: Footage of the first people transported from eastern Aleppo city reaching western Aleppo city:
— Ahmad Alkhatib (@AhmadAlkhtiib) December 15, 2016
People in eastern Aleppo city awaiting removal:
UPDATE 1515 GMT: After initial confusion, it has been established that wounded in two regimes in Idlib Province will be evacuated.
Iran had insisted on the evacuations from al-Fu’ah and Kafarya before the removal from eastern Aleppo city began. Rebels had initially denied that they accepted the condition in the renewed ceasefire late Wednesday.
Twelve buses waiting to move the injured:
UPDATE 1425 GMT: Footage of the initial convoy for evacuation from eastern Aleppo, and the gunfire upon it which killed one person and injured four.
About 1,150 people were moved in the 20 buses and 13 ambulances.
How disgusting is that? Regime soldiers fire on a convoy leaving Aleppo killing one and injuring others. pic.twitter.com/dRGInZ63Im
— Pashtun Cat (@__PashtunCat) December 15, 2016
UPDATE 1415 GMT: Residents are taking their last photos before leaving eastern Aleppo city.
A woman and her two children:
“Coming Back — Love! 15/12/2016”
“Some Day We Will Return”:
UPDATE 1120 GMT: Pro-opposition activists say the evacuation from eastern Aleppo city has restarted, following this morning’s attack by pro-Assad militias.
A convoy of 20 buses and 13 ambulances carrying civilians, many of them wounded, reportedly headed towards western Aleppo Province.
— Aleppo24 (@24Aleppo) December 15, 2016
UPDATE 0810 GMT: Pro-opposition activists say pro-Assad militias have fired on the first group of people leaving eastern Aleppo city.
Local sources say the evacuation has been suspended.
Claimed picture of a victim:
Bibros Mashaal during rescue operations in Aleppo:
A White Helmets volunteer speaks about the incident, “They shot at us twice, but we kept trying. Third time, ambulance driver got shot and a colleague and civilians. All serious condition.”
— AEJ خليل ้้้้้็็็็Ⓜ (@AEJKhalil) December 15, 2016
People awaiting evacuation before the shooting:
— Riam Dalati (@Dalatrm) December 15, 2016
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Syria’s rebels say that a plan for ceasefire and removal of people from parts of Aleppo is back on track, and — after initial rejections — pro-regime outlets have confirmed the claim.
“Within the coming hours [the ceasefire and removal’s] implementation will begin,” said Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, a military spokesman for the Nour al-Din al-Zinki rebel faction.
An official with the Jabha Shamiya rebel group said removals would start about 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Thursday, with about about 1,000 wounded people leaving the opposition areas in eastern Aleppo city. The full removal will be complete within three days, he asserted.
An outlet of Hezbollah, a key military supporter of the Assad regime, initially disputed the report: “The negotiations are seeing big complications, in light of tension and operations on the front lines.”
However, the outlet said this morning that the first removals will take place “in the coming hours”. A regime military source confirmed the truce.
Twenty buses and 10 ambulances are reportedly gathering to take away the first group of rebels, their families, and other residents.
The initial ceasefire, brokered by Turkey and Russia, was implemented Wednesday morning. However, within hours it was broken by militias linked to the Assad regime and Iran. President Assad, who was not informed of the Russian-Turkish negotiations, appeared to reject the truce. Reports said Tehran was insisting on the end to rebel bombardment of the regime enclaves of al-Fu’ah and Kafraya in Idlib Province in northwest Syria.
A rebel faction involved in the negotiations denied any agreement to the Iranian conditions, including the evacuation of wounded from the enclaves. A pro-Hezbollah activist supported the claim:
— Elijah J. Magnier (@EjmAlrai) 15 December 2016
However, a Turkish source said the rebels had accepted the removal of the injured.
A copy of the latest ceasefire agreement:
Agreement was signed (from right to left) by:
Zaid Saleh (Regime)
Gen. Vladimir Savchenko (Russia)
Omar Rahmun (Regime)
Farouq (Opposition) pic.twitter.com/SXYLKUoeEi
— archicivilians (@archicivilians) December 15, 2016
Collapse of Wednesday’s Ceasefire
Turkey and Russia had hailed the ceasefire-removal plan on Tuesday, in a phone call between Foreign Ministers Mevlut Cavusoglu and Sergei Lavrov. But Moscow appeared to be caught off-guard by the refusal of the pro-Assad militias to adhere: it had to put out the deceptive line that it was rebels who violated the agreement, shelling people who were gathered to leave and that the Syrian army was forced to respond.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan later called Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to urge the restoration of the ceasefire. The two men issued a statement which “reaffirmed their commitment to start the evacuation of civilians and the opposition through safe corridors as soon as possible”.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also spoke twice with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif over the phone.
Meanwhile, those still inside eastern Aleppo spoke of residents having to return to their homes after unsuccessfully gathering at the removal checkpoints, and they showed the impact of the new shelling.
“Bombing is ongoing, no one can move. Everyone is hiding and terrified,” activist Mohammad al-Khatib said. “The wounded and dead are lying in the street. No one dares to try and retrieve the bodies.”
Resident Zouhir al-Shimale spoke of the attacks and damage:
— Zouhir_AlShimale (@ZouhirAlShimale) December 14, 2016
The UN’s Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein denounced the Assad regime over the attacks:
The way this deal was dangled in front of this battered and beleaguered population — causing them to hope they might indeed live to see another day — and then snatched away just half a day later is also outrageously cruel.
The Syrian government has a clear responsibility to ensure its people are safe, and is palpably failing to take this opportunity to do so.
The Local Coordination Committee documented the killing of 19 people in Aleppo, among 67 deaths across Syria.
Among the victims were 37 in an ISIS-held village in northern Hama Province which was attacked by a “toxic gas” earlier this. Claims have said that at least 85 people died, with some saying that a nerve agent such as sarin was usesd.